Poppy seeds bid for Sutton man's war tribute

Keighley News: Andrew Hardaker with some of the poppy seeds he is donating to the public to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War Andrew Hardaker with some of the poppy seeds he is donating to the public to mark the centenary of the start of the First World War

A Sutton man is leading a campaign for district residents to plant millions of poppy seeds across the Keighley area.

Andrew Hardaker wants people to commemorate the First World War by creating what he describes as a “red carpet of remembrance”.

He has already given out more than two million seeds through several shops and other outlets in Keighley.

A further three-and-a-half million are being funded by Keighley history group, Men of Worth.

Mr Hardaker, who is a gardener, began his campaign after hearing about a similar project elsewhere in the country on Facebook.

He said: “The Facebook pages suggest an attempt at a massive, country-wide planting of Flanders poppies to coincide with the centenary commemorations.

“I’m going to scatter some on a little patch of land at work, and I’m going to go around patches of waste ground.

“I had a great grandad who died on the Somme. We only found out a couple of years ago when my son did a school project.”

Mr Hardaker discovered he could buy half a sack of 750,000 seeds – the size of a packet of noodles – for £12.

He said: “I sit putting them into tiny bags while I’m watching TV. I’ve sent out two-and-a-half million already.

“I’m waiting for more seeds to come because the shops have run out.”

The Red Carpet project has been welcomed by Andy Wade from Men of Worth, a group of local historians who research the experiences of local people who served in the world wars.

Mr Wade said: “Naturally, the Men of Worth project is in support of this idea, and we will certainly do what we can to support it.”

Mr Hardaker’s seeds are available free from the Family History Library, upstairs at Keighley Library; the Family Pantry in Sutton; the Exchange Arts Centre in Russell Street, Keighley; and the Forteas tearoom in North Street, Keighley.

The seeds are also available by e-mailing Mr Hardaker at redcarpetremembrance@gmail.com.

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